Very Superstitious

Posted by Filed Under: Running Tips

image.jpgMany athletes have quirky superstitions, like the hockey goalie who talks to his posts or the baseball player who refuses to wash his shirt between games. Some sports just seem to lend themselves to superstitions and eccentric routines. Have you ever watched a tennis player preparing to serve? They don’t just step up to the line ready to hit the ball, they have a rigid schedule that they adhere to before they serve. The ball has to be bounced the right number of times, the racket has to be spun, they have to adjust their shirt or skirt or socks. Only after they’ve completed these voodoo-esque rituals are they ready to serve.

These bizarre traditions can’t possibly enhance performance, which is to say that playing in a fresh shirt as opposed to a smelly one is not going to make you hit the ball any harder. I’ve never known a runner who talked to his shoes or who had any other idiosyncrasies. like to think it’s because we are an extremely intelligent group. We don’t buy into all that foolish mumbo jumbo. Although, you do have that lucky race shirt that you always wear. And now that I think of it you do always put your timing chip on the right shoe, but I suppose that’s just good common sense since it balances out your watch always being on your left hand. If you’re anything like me then you’re also careful not to let your old running shoes “see” your new shoes, but I don’t think there’s anything quirky about that, is there?

rafa_serve.jpgOften, these superstitions are just routines that help us to stay focused and avoid distraction. It may be as simple as visualizing the race or going over your strategy in your mind. You may recite your goal splits while standing at the start, or size up your competition to find someone to pace with. Perhaps you have to remind yourself to start slowly or perhaps you rehearse your mantras, being careful not to appear as though you’re talking to your shoes.

So let’s hear it, what are your superstitions? What helps you stay focused on race day? Oh, and for the sake of the rest of us who toe the line next to you, please don’t suggest not washing your shirt between races.
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About Ian

Hello, my name is Ian and I'm a runner. After several years of promising to train for and run the Bolder Boulder 10K I finally signed up for it in 2005 with zero training under my belt. Shocked that I was slower than I thought I should be, I made it my goal to be faster the following year. I'm still not as fast as I should be, but I have been a runner ever since. I believe in quality miles over quantity of miles. I believe that you have to run faster in order to run faster, and I believe that I can. I believe in the Garmin. I believe in motion control and that I have an unhealthy addiction to running shoes. I believe in carb loading and tapering, even before a 5K. I believe I’ll never need to buy another t-shirt ever again. I live to run and I run for the post race spread, where the free food and drink flows like milk and honey, and sometimes even includes milk and honey.

  1. Juls on January 8th at 9:31 am

    WHAT?! My old running shoes aren’t supposed to see my new ones? Nobody ever told me this. *This* could be my problem. THANKS.

  2. frayedlaces on January 8th at 8:29 pm

    You know that point in the race when you are pushing super hard and have to use your mantras to keep your goal pace? Yeah, well, that’s when I usually abandon my mantras and end up cursing. Loudly. And not just in my head. No matter how G-rated I intend to be, I end up getting glares from people around me as I yell “come on you f’ing pansy, you know you can do this!” It’s only a matter of time before I am disqualified for my profanity. I think I have a problem.

  3. IHateToast on January 9th at 4:49 am

    i’m not superstitious, but i’ve decided that for each race i do as part of booty-recovery, i’ll wear the same outfit i wore when i broke my booty. less a superstition than a ritual for this year.
    i also avoid curries, but that’s just experience.

  4. Jim on January 9th at 2:14 pm

    Yep, sure am! My pre-race ritual is a large coffee from a very specific convenience store (and ONE SPECIFIC location!), and a very specific protein bar. I get very cranky if I don’t get both! And at the end of every race, no matter the length, there is one specific song on my MP3 player that I always have to listen to–it gives me that final shot of gas to finish strong!


  5. J-Money on January 9th at 3:46 pm

    If I have a race on the track (which happens once a year), I never step on the white lines of the track, I always listen to the exact same playlist (beginning with Jerry Garcia’s “The Wheel”, which keeps me from swallowing my own tongue), and finally I consume an entire chipmunk.

  6. Mom On The Run on January 10th at 6:07 pm

    My favourite pre-race meal is a Boston Cream Donut. One of these days it’ll help me qualify for Boston!

  7. Eric on January 12th at 6:50 pm

    I love that… I’m never letting my old shoes see my new shoes again.

  8. Bekki on May 8th at 12:11 pm

    The night before each run, I put my running shoes by the door. I leave everything else up in my room, but just put my running shoes by the door – don’t know why. I lay out what I’m wearing too, and don’t just throw it in a big pile…I shape a person with the clothes. Don’t know why I do these little rituals, but I do. I also crinkle up my number and not just for wind resistence, but I just feel weird if I dont.